Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Sermon March 13, 2016 Lent 5

19I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. 20The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.
During Lent we have been exploring our journey with Jesus as we travel to the Easter celebration by exploring ways of Spiritual Renewal.  Spiritual Renewal is a way which can help us navigate through those times in life in which we feel as if we are tottering on the edge of the pit.  It can also help us to more closely follow our Saviour each day – in the good times as well as the bad times.  
Today Isaiah declares that God will give water to God’s chosen people in the wilderness.  Spiritual Renewal calls us to different ways of drawing  on the water of salvation.  This is an echo of what Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well:  “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus tells us to draw of the water which he provides— that water of eternal life.  This is the goal of Spiritual Renewal.  The first way we explored was a method of reading scripture - Lectio Divina, Holy Reading .  This is not bible study in the traditional sense.  Rather it is a form of prayer using scripture.

We next explored walking the Labyrinth - the moving prayer in which we follow the twists and turns of our spiritual life to the centre and back.  Sometimes it seems we are getting close to the centre and then there is a sharp turn in our lives and we seem to be moving away from our goal.  However, if we follow the path that our savour prepares for us we will reach it.  Last Sunday we explored a way that God speaks to us which has been lost for many centuries—dreams which can be called God’s Forgotten Language.  Today I invite you to experience a form of prayer which also helps us draw the water of eternal life from the well; Centering Prayer.   Centering Prayer is a form of silent prayer in which you make space for you to be more aware of God’s presence in your life.  God is always there but we often have difficulty perceiving that presence.  The process is quite simple with just a few steps. 
Choose a word or phrase that resonates with you as an expression of your intent and desire - It use the word ‘return’.  Sit comfortably and upright, eyes closed, breathing naturally, and begin to repeat this sacred word silently. As your attention is focused on the desire behind the word, gradually let the word slip away; Rest in silence.  You will find that thoughts and images and feeling may come into your mind.  We are not used to quiet in our culture – our brains want to fill silence.  This has been called our monkey brains - which is very descriptive.  When these thoughts, images or sensations arise, gently return to the sacred word as a symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within you. 

The recommended period for prayer is twenty minutes each day.  However, we will begin today with five minutes to give you a taste of the experience.  When the time is up I will close with a prayer.

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